Myrtle Wilson Themes of Class and Wealth

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We get the feeling that Myrtle Wilson is not an especially smart woman. Strung along by Tom, Myrtle is convinced that he loves her and would leave his wife for her if he could. The whole bit about Daisy being a Catholic and not believing in divorce is, as Nick points out, not remotely true.

Because she is unhappy in her marriage to George, Myrtle is drawn to Tom for certain specific reasons. George is passive, but Tom is controlling and authoritative. Myrtle puts up with Tom’s physical abuse because she equates it with masculinity – a quality that in her mind is lacking in her husband. She even yells at George, "throw me and down and beat me, you dirty little coward!"

Myrtle also adds to the novel’s themes of class and wealth. She insists that she married below her caste, that she believed certain things about George until they got married and it was too late, he borrowed a suit for the wedding, for example. Since Myrtle is quite obviously below the Buchanan’s class (yet another reason she goes for Tom), Fitzgerald ridicules her for insisting that she is above her husband. Myrtle has many hopes and Myrtle never really loved Tom but just wanted his money. She called his house during dinner to talk to him without even thinking that he might get caught. She does not respect him at all except for when she wants something. When she and Tom are at the party at the apartment, she disrespects Daisy and Tom hits her in the nose. Myrtle only wants to get away from the poor life with George and live more luxuriously with another man. She hopes that someday that Tom will leave Daisy and they can live together. The nature of Myrtle Wilson is apparent at the party in the apartment. Even though alcohol is prohibited during this time, she drinks freely. She also says that when she first met Tom Buchanan, she was attracted to him by his suit. Myrtle says, he had on a dress suit and patent leather shoes and I couldn’t keep my eyes off him....
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